The Travel Dilemma

I’ve been traveling my whole life; it is something I love to do.  Whenever I can, I tote a camera along.  This can be troublesome at times: how do I get my cameras, lenses, flashes, tripod, computer, extra hard drives, and, oh, by the way, I may need to change my clothes some time during the trip.  For short, day trips, I have a small Tenba™ bag that can hold my D300, my 18-200mm zoom, 50mm, 105mm micro, and my big 70-200mm zoom.  I’ll bring the smaller SB-600 flash along, if I think I’ll need one.  This adds up to about 20-25 pounds, so it’s not a big deal to tote for photowalks and hiking around wherever I’m shooting. The problems begin when I travel for longer trips.  I have a big Tenba that holds my gear and computer stuff, but that pushes things up to about 45 pounds.  Since, once I get to my destination, I am not going to want to carry all that, I pack the small Tenba in my luggage, requiring a big suitcase that needs to be checked (and paid for).  Throw in the tripod, some phone and battery chargers with the clothes and small camera bag, and you’re pushing the 50 pounds most airlines want to allow you per suitcase.  No problem if I’m going on a fun trip, but for a wedding or some event that requires nice clothes, and you're going to need a second checked bag.  Mark claims that he can discipline himself to bring a very small kit, but I think he’s just too lazy to carry his stuff. 

Here is my justification for all my stuff.  The camera with extra battery grip and GPS should not need any justification.  I love the 18-200 zoom because of its inherent versatility, but it isn’t very fast, so the 70-200 2.8 zoom is one of my favorite for days when I need the extra speed.  I carry the 50mm for the same reason – it’s fast and really doesn’t add any weight.  My current favorite lens is the 105mm micro (Nikon doesn’t like to call it a macro lens).  The narrow depth of field possible with the 105 makes it ideal for shots of people with a nice bokeh for a background. And the aforementioned small flash.  Then there are the 18-35mm and 50-500mm zooms for times when nothing else will do.  Oh, and my monopod…got to take that if I’m going into DC or other places that ban tripods, but allow monopods.  Is it any wonder, I’m still driving a truck?  (in which I usually am carrying the Nikon P6000 point-and-shoot)

This becomes a struggle to balance common sense and travel fun with the desire to have everything I “might” want to use during the trip.  After struggling with this for a long time – not always successfully, I’ve finally decided that I’ll bring what I want to bring and deal with the travel hassles.  But you need to think through the problem for yourself as you prepare for your next trip.  Why would you go somewhere without a camera? 

Here is a shot of Mark on the Georgetown photowalk, in June 2007, carrying less than me.  Have fun.